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Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2016

Why Psi Chi Membership Is a Good Investment for Your Future

Beth Venzke, PhD, Concordia University Chicago (IL)
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As higher education continues to increase in cost, the additional cost of membership in honors’ organizations such as Psi Chi may be more and more difficult for many students to afford. Although you might have worked hard to attain membership qualifications, you may even question how belonging to Psi Chi will provide you additional benefits than your already earned academic achievements. This article will highlight some of the reasons why becoming a Psi Chi member is a good investment for your future when you take advantage of the many opportunities Psi Chi has to offer you.
Relationships With Like-Minded Achievers
To meet Psi Chi’s membership qualifications, you need to earn a high GPA in your psychology courses, as well as your overall GPA, and have a high class ranking—accomplishments that will be represented on your transcript. Being a Psi Chi member is an additional way to indicate your commitment to the field of psychology to prospective employers or graduate schools. Psi Chi members represent the best and brightest of psychology majors, minors, and graduate students. Members are typically involved in research and service projects that supplement their education. Additionally, members develop professional relationships (and possible friendships) with other psychology students—the basis for professional networking. Finally, members develop relationships with departmental faculty, especially their chapter’s faculty advisor. These relationships provide additional knowledge and resources as you continue your journey in the field of psychology.
Service Projects
The field of psychology is concerned with improving the human condition. Through service projects in your own community, you will be directly involved with improving the life of others.  Each local chapter is encouraged to undertake at least one service project each year, though there is no limit as to the number of projects in which a chapter may participate. Service projects include food, clothing, school supply drives, toy drives, holding a craft making session at a local nursing home, visiting local high schools to talk about psychology with teens, or help at a food pantry or soup kitchen. Through these projects, you will develop planning skills, connect with community leaders, and most importantly, help those in need.
Leadership Opportunities
Having your Psi Chi membership as a line on your resume’ or graduate school application is a good start. However, to benefit the most from your membership, you need to be an involved member. Consider seeking one of the many leadership positions available in your school’s chapter. By serving as a leader, not only will you be influential in what direction your chapter takes during the academic year, but you will also be developing leadership skills. Employers and graduate school admission committees are seeking students who have demonstrated initiative, good communication skills, and the ability to work well with others. A leadership position in Psi Chi fosters these attributes.
Scholarship- and Grant-Writing Skills
Numerous scholarships and grants are available only to Psi Chi members. By applying for a grant, you will receive experience with grant writing, a skill that is an important part of our profession. Even if you do not receive the scholarship or grant, the preparation of the application requires you to present your academic and personal strengths (in the case of a scholarship) and prepare a well-designed research proposal (in the case of a grant). These writing exercises further develop your written communication skills and may point out to you areas in which you need to continue to grow.
Research Guidance
As previously mentioned, Psi Chi members are committed to adding to the body of psychological knowledge through research. Even if the words research and statistics make you perspire, psychology is a scientific field, so competence in research and statistics is expected of psychology graduates. The more experience you have reading and discussing research articles and conducting your own research studies, the more these skills will develop. An important attribute of psychology majors is their ability to critically evaluate information. This ability is developed through discussion and conducting research projects. Most Psi Chi chapters have research as one of their major foci during the year.
Support at Regional Conventions
The regional APA conventions provide many events open only to Psi Chi members. One such event is a separate student research presentation session. You may still be accepted in the regular sessions, but your research will be more likely to be accepted when you compete against other students. Presenting your research is a major accomplishment and one for which you should strive. Regional APA conventions also provide a plethora of workshops just for you. Example topics include how to ask for letters of recommendation, how to write a personal statement, how to prepare a professional resumé, and more. Representatives from numerous organizations and graduate schools attend the conventions for you to meet and discuss your interests in detail.
So, even in the time of high cost for higher education, the investment in Psi Chi membership is well worth it. Be sure, however, to make an investment of time in your local chapter, as well.

Beth Venzke, PhD, received both her BA in psychology and PhD in developmental psychology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Since then, she spent the last 25 years as a professor at small, liberal arts institutions helping students discover the complexities and joys of psychology. Her area of research focuses on social-emotional development in children, especially the impact of parenting on children’s well-being across the various social classes. Dr. Venzke also conducts research on best practices in institutional assessment. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and spending time with family, including her four dogs.

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Copyright 2016 (Volume 21, Issue 1) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


 
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Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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